In case you missed the details on Clay Buchholz's new deal with the Red Sox that were in the paper, here you go:
2011: $550,000. Plus $1 million bonus for signing new deal.
2012: $3.5 million
2013: $5.5 million
2014: $7.7 million
2015: $12 million
2016: $13 million team option (or $245,000 buyout)
2017: $13.5 million team option (or $500,000 buyout)
Note: 2017 option increases to $14 million if Buchholz finishes either first or second in Cy Young voting during the contract.
At best, Buchholz will make $57,250,000 million over seven years. That's an average of $8.17 million and that makes it a very good deal for the Red Sox if he pitches at a high level.
At worst, Buchholz makes $30,495,000 and that should provide some financial security for his family. If he stinks, the Red Sox are out an average of $6 million a year and that's not crippling.
Given their history with Clay and their knowledge of his skills, personality and work ethic, the Sox are betting against the idea that he will stink.
It's imperative for teams to sign good young players (and especially pitchers) to long term deals that buy out their arbitration years and at least a year or two of free agency. This allows for better long-term planning. The deals the Red Sox with Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester and now Buchholz will enable them to pursue free agents when needed.
It's reasonable to ask whether the player potentially loses money. In some cases, sure he does. Jonathan Papelbon turned down such a deal to go year-by-year through arbitration and become a free agent. If he has a big season, it could pay off with a $15 million a year deal for him. That's a heck of a lot more than he would have received in 2012 otherwise had be signed a long-term in 2008.
But if Papelbon gets injured (or pitches poorly), that money won't be there. It's a chance you take either way. Given the risks, most players opt for the security and the opportunity to get more money up front than they would have otherwise.
Buchholz has a wife and an infant daughter. He could make roughly $1.2 million over the next two years and probably live pretty comfortably. Now he gets $5 million and that's the kind of money where you can set yourself up in a new home, take care of your parents, etc.